Luis Aguayo and his Quad Cities River Bandits coaching staff were pleasantly surprised to receive world championship rings Thursday from the St. Louis Cardinals organization.|
However, the Bandits manager would have gladly traded the title trinket for a much-needed victory for his Class A ballclub.
The local minor league baseball team rallied from a 4-0, second-inning deficit for a 5-5 share in the fourth frame, only to see recent pitching woes continue in a 9-6 setback to Wisconsin at Modern Woodman Park.
The Bandits (21-25) now have dropped 12 of their last 16 games to slip 8 1/2 games behind the visiting Timber Rattlers (30-17) in the Midwest League's Western Division.
Those two teams wrap up a three-game series tonight back on the Davenport riverfront.
"We've run into a tough stretch where our pitching is struggling on finishing hitters,'' Aguayo said. "We get to the point where we get two strikes on them, but then we make a mistake and we get hurt.''
Still, Aguayo was pleased to see the Bandits battle back offensively from the early deficit.
Juan Castillo had a two-out, two-run double in the third inning.
Luis Mateo (RBI single) and Tyler Rahmatulla (two-run single) added clutch two-out base knocks in the fourth to thrill a crowd of 2,347.
"We've done that all year,'' Aguayo said. "But like I've said before, the key is pitching and defense, and there were a couple of plays where we put ourselves in trouble.''
With Cardinals minor league director John Vuch in attendance, the Bandits surrendered the lead in the sixth with a wild pitch by Willy Paulino (1-3) scoring the first run of the frame.
An error by shortstop Matt Williams, one of two on the night, and now 17 on the season, also opened the door for a three-run homer by Yadiel Rivera.
Staked to the big lead, Wisconsin reliever Tyler Cravy (1-1) slammed the door, striking out eight and walking none in a sparkling five-inning effort.
One of only three hits surrendered by Cravy was a solo homer in the ninth by Rahmatulla, who finished 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs for QC.
Mateo also had two singles but the hosts were outhit 12-10.
Greg Hopkins went 4-for-5 with a double and three RBIs to lead the Timber Rattlers.
"It's a process we have to go through,'' Aguayo said. "But we will get it done because we have some good arms and good movement. We just have to keep working to put a good stretch together again.
"If anything, this should give guys more fuel to come work harder.''
On the bright side, after the nightmarish sixth, Bob Revesz (innings 7-8) and Heath Wyatt (ninth inning) combined to fan five, walk none and allow but one hit in relief for the Bandits.
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